Counting down the days to the first bell ringing

Counting down the days to the first bell ringing

By Frank Warren

AS THINGS STAND, you could say we are now right in the thick of the championship rounds when it comes to our bid to put boxing back on the box.

Our intention is to stage our first post-lockdown show in the middle of July and we are currently in the process of finalising the matches for a sequence of fight cards.

Like everybody else, we have had a lot of time on our hands over the last ten weeks or so, but we were able to put a good chunk of it to good use in formulating safe and efficient protocols to enable us to return while protecting the health of everybody concerned.

It will be far from normal to start off with and many fight week features will simply not be possible in the traditional fashion. Pre-fight contact will have to be minimised and multiple testing procedures put in place. It is going to be a sanitised experience and probably a bit surreal, but it is the way it has to be in order to deliver boxing to the fans at this point in time.

Government guidelines have now been updated to enable elite athletes to return to work and the ones who ticked over and kept their weight in check will reap the benefits of their sacrifices in the weeks ahead.

We have been acutely aware throughout this difficult time of the need to get the fighting flag flying once again and us returning in these circumstances is for the good of the sport as a whole, the broadcasters, the fans and, most of all, the fighters.

Particularly the younger ones who might be struggling to make ends meet and really need to be getting the fights in at this stage of their careers.

It isn’t going to be a profitable project for the promoters, but these fighters entrust us with steering their careers and we have a duty to them to provide a platform for them to successfully progress in the sport.

We also have an obligation to our broadcaster to deliver live boxing for the fans that subscribe.

We all know that it will not be the same without the fans making each event a special occasion from their vantage points in the arenas, so it is down to us to create a visually appealing spectacle that will make for good viewing.

We will be in position to reveal where we are to stage our productions very soon and the location will give us enormous scope to be creative, while not heightening the discomfort of anyone who might suffer from hay fever…

Like, I am sure, all of you I cannot wait for boxing to get going again and to crack on with the development of our brilliant young prospects and soon-to-be title contenders.

Hopefully then it will only be a matter of not too long a time until we can start plotting the blockbuster shows that we had pencilled in before the pause button was pressed on normal daily life.

A HUGELY POPULAR fighting figure announced his departure from the sport over the weekend and I must say that characters like Johnny Garton will always be missed.

Johnny Garton Victory

Johnny is a perfect gent and a superb ambassador for all that is good in boxing.

By his own admission, he was not the most gifted to lace up the gloves and he got by and succeeded in his profession by virtue of hard work and possession of an indomitable spirit.

I am thrilled that, after linking up with us for the final few chapters of his career, we were able to deliver title opportunities for Johnny, which he duly seized – including the British welterweight title that meant so much to him.

It was a particular pleasure, when we took boxing back to the Royal Albert Hall last year, to showcase two top blokes in Johnny and Chris Jenkins giving it their all in front of the BT cameras in the grand old venue.

It was just a pity that one of them had to lose.

Johnny has now decided to take a step back and I am sure it is the right decision for him. I would like to wish him every success for the future.

TO THE OUTSIDER looking in you could easily come to the conclusion that we have been on a shopping spree here at Queensberry during the lockdown period.

A host of new names, including former world champion Charlie Edwards, have all signed up to fight under the Queensberry banner over the last couple of months and I would like to take this opportunity to welcome them all to the team.

While it might look like we embarked on a recruitment drive during lockdown, the truth of the matter is these agreements have been in the pipeline for some time and the quiet spell presented a timely juncture to get the deals signed off and formally announced.

A few of them offer the opportunity to take TV boxing to some relatively uncharted territories in recent years and, when we are able to do so, I am looking forward to taking our show on the road again.

I WAS REALLY saddened to hear of the recent death of the veteran boxing writer Sydney Hulls, a few days short of his 97th birthday. Syd, who knew the game inside out, kept his hand in by working for us in our press and publicity office for a while after his retirement from the Daily Express some 30 years ago.

He wrote with great authority on the game being steeped in boxing as his father had been a well-known promoter in the 1940s. What many may not know about Syd was that he was a much-medalled war hero.

In September 1944, as a gunner with the First Airborne Division and a radio operator, he was parachuted into Arnhem in a Allied assault to attempt to capture the German-held bridge across the Rhine.

Syd was a resourceful story gatherer in boxing and many other of the Olympic sports he covered. Wherever he was in the world he had a nose for news – as well as the best restaurant in town.

He shall be missed.

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